Aramco's rare preliminary geographic map of the Peninsula

Arabian Peninsula. - Brown, Glen F[rancis]. [United States Geological Survey of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia]. Arabian Peninsula. Map I-270 B-1.

Washington, D.C., The Survey (U.S. Geological Society), 1958.

1380 × 1216 mm. Lambert conformal conic projection, constant ratio linear horizontal scale 1:2,000,000. Relief shown by hachures and spot heights. Framed and glazed.


A highly detailed map of the complete Peninsula, the first modern map in 1:2,000,000 scale: the rare preliminary edition, issued five years before the officical release. Based on the groundbreaking series prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Arabian American Oil Company under the joint sponsorship of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. State Department, "a unique experiment in geological cooperation among several governments, petroleum companies, and individuals" (Seager/Johnston). Also includes the territories of today's Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. "The plan for a cooperative mapping project was originally conceived in July 1953 [... By 1955] there was established a cooperative agreement between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Department of State, and the Arabian-American Oil Co. to make available the basic areal geology as mapped by Aramco and the U.S. Geological Survey" (ibid.). The plan provided for 21 maps on a 1:500,000 scale in both geologic and geographic versions; "a peninsular geologic map on a scale of 1:2,000,000 was to conclude the project [...] The first geographic quadrangle was published in July 1956 and the last in September 1962. While preparation of the geographic sheets was in progress, a need arose for early publication of a 1:2,000,000-scale peninsular geographic map. Consequently, a preliminary edition was compiled and published in both English and Arabic in 1958" (ibid.). While the revised, final version that appeared in 1963 ("I-270 B-2") would incorporate some additional photographic, topographic and cultural data, the exceedingly uncommon present, preliminary edition is surprisingly complete in virtually all respects - a testament to the precision with which Aramco's cartographers proceeded from the very first. Includes a key with symbols for water pipelines, desert watering points, oil fields, pumping stations, refineries, and a glossary of Arabic names.

"Although the search for oil, gas and minerals was ultimately to drive geological survey work across the region [...], in its early years it was the need for water that was the catalyst for Saudi Arabia's resource exploration. In 1944 King 'Abd al-'Aziz approached the United States for a technical expert who could assist with the identification and plotting of the kingdom's natural resources, particularly its groundwater reserves. The individual who arrived, Glen F. Brown, was one of the pioneers of a partnership between the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the government of Saudi Arabia that was to span the next five decades and play an important role in the development of the kingdom [...] By 1954 the Saudi Ministry of Finance, USGS and Aramco were working together to produce the first full series of geographic and geologic maps of the country. The first of their type in the Peninsula, these were published [...] in both Arabic and English versions, and the information they contained formed the basis of subsequent Saudi national development plans. To this day, all modern maps of the kingdom trace their roots back to these first publications" (Parry).

Some insignificant browning; a few slight edge defects professionally repaired. Altogether in fine condition.


James V. Parry, "Mapping Arabia", in: Saudi Aramco World 2004/1, p. 20ff. OCLC 30099393. O. A. Seager/W. D. Johnston, Foreword to the Geology of the Arabian Peninsula series (U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 560-A-D, 1966).